The Predictive Diallers get the WAKE-up Call.

by Niels Kjellerup, editor 1997

The UK DMA is about to release NEW tougher guidelines for use of predictive dialling in the UK. It is the first Direct Marketing Association in the World to tackle this issue and The Code will probably become a model for other DMA’s to follow.

After years of public complaints of nuisance calls, i.e. where the Predictive Dialler (PD) lets the customer answer the phone listening to a void, the self-regulating body for Direct Marketing and Telemarketing in the UK is putting into print the new Guide-lines for the use of Predictive Diallers.

Here is the revised Code from the UK DMA, as it relates to Predictive Diallers:

1. Use of Power and Predictive Dialling Equipment

For the purpose of this code, a power dialler is an automated dialler which can store, access and automatically dial telephone numbers and a Predictive Dialler is an automated dialler which will adjust the rate at which it dials, and deliver answered calls automatically to match the operator availability.

2. If a "live" operator is unavailable to take the call generated by the Dialler, the equipment should abandon the call and release the line in not more than one second. If the number is redialled the same day, a "live" operator must be available before the call is made to avoid the call being dropped more than once.

3. The Dialler must at all times be adjusted to ensure that the rate of calls abandoned is no more than 5 %.

4. Members must maintain an up-to-date archive of abandoned call statistics and make that archive available for inspection on reasonable notice from the appropriate authorities.

Comment :

The 5% abandon rate was agreed upon when it was realised that most Predictive Diallers currently installed in the UK could not match the newer Algorithm products which can satisfy abandonment rates of a fraction of 1%.

The main issues for the UK DMA Code are :

1. Is abandonment rate calculated based on number of completed connects or on total numbers dialled ? For example if a PD assumes only 40% of all calls lead to a valid connect - so out of 10000 calls only 4000 end in a phone conversation. At a 5% abandonment rate this means that either 500 people received a nuisance call or 200 did. Abandonment rate should be defined based on number of connects, i.e. 5% of 4000 = 200.

2. Predictive Hang-ups - the UK DMA seems to have forgotten this concept in the code.

This happens when the predictive dialler lets the phone ring and then hangs up before anyone answers. Currently such a call is NOT calculated as an abandoned call.

In an ISDN environment, using a modern switch the scope for hang-up before ringing commences is almost non-existent.

The key to improved Predictive Diallers are the design of the Algorithms at the heart of the software controlling its functions and might lead manufacturers to revisit the Algorithm-designs to improve performance in accordance with the new Code adopted in the UK. Call Center Managers will have to develop a better understanding of how the Predictive Dialler actually works as in the end even the best algorithms cannot improve performance; it will be in the hands of the the End User.




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